Beyond Eyes is an excellent game, it tells a sad but deep tale of a young girl named Rae who in a freak accident involving fireworks loses her sight. This sends Rae into isolation spending her days alone in her garden until one day when a lone cat shows up, this cat she names Nani and with her help Rae begins to find new hope, her friend becomes her lone companion and someone she comes to rely on. This early story takes up many seasons showing the change of the weather in Rae’s garden as she plays with Nani, but while the cat’s appearances were frequent early on the visits are lessened over the seasons until they stop all together. Nani’s absence prompts Rae to leave the comfort of her garden and step out into a now unfamiliar world to find her friend.
Rae’s journey is full of fear and hardships as she deals with a world that is now strange, but in turn this journey to find Nani is a really well told story and one that tackles a really challenging topic. Without the ability to see Rae’s world is not simple, her world is born from her imagination and created by her remaining senses. In itself this journey was a wonderful experience that shows how with a little encouragement you can face the toughest challenges even if it leads to a sad conclusion such as the case with this game. As it turns out Nani had died and her visits were less frequent clearly because she was sick, for Rae this was a sad conclusion but I think it is made better when we consider that perhaps Nani never existed and was merely a creation of many factors in Rae’s imagination.
Nani never existed
As we know Rae is left isolated and sad when she is left blind and so she spends her days alone in her garden until one day she receives a visitor, this is Nani or is it. In Rae’s mind she needed a friend, someone who would care about her and play with her despite her newfound shortcomings, and what stumbles into her life? It was Nani a cat who didn’t care about Rae’s shortcomings and simply randomly stumbled across Rae’s garden, does this not seem pretty convenient because in just looking at the game it is.
While no definitive team given in the game about how long Rae sat alone and isolated but the information we are given is that “one day she received a visitor”. Seems pretty convenient if you ask me, and why is this because Nani does not actually exist and I have two different theories for how this works.
The first of my theories is that Rae created Nani in her imagination, although hearing is said to be an improved factor when someone goes blind the mind also creates the world around you as Beyond Eyes demonstrates. The two factors that Rae relates to us is that she recognizes Nani by the sound of her cry, as well as a bell she wears, it can be considered that the bell is in her imagination but this piece is the one true element. Even if Nani was created in Rae’s mind a nearby bell was something that Rae associated with the cat and for this to work a sound must have come from somewhere in her garden hence the association.
The mind is a powerful tool and Rae’s tricked her at every turn giving her a friend who she even imagined that she could feel as well as hear. The reason for Nani’s creation was to help Rae’s phycological state, as mentioned Rae was isolated and to help her recover and find her way again she created a friend who would be there for her. The question is why does Nani not show up all the time? Well, that is very simple Nani’s existence depended solely on Rae’s mindset each day and whether she was needed, and towards the end as she appeared less and less it was Rae’s mind forcing Rae to let her go as to suggest she was no longer needed.
This would eventually push Rae to head out to find her friend, this removed Rae from her garden and in the same point her isolation and placed her in the world. This world may have been scary and unpredictable to her but Rae needed to get out into it to finally be free of her problems, and to finally put a closure to Nani she eventually would reach a cemetery and hear the familiar sound of a bell above a grave. This may be heartbreaking but it was Rae letting go of Nani and moving on, she had left her comfort zone to finally be free and the familiar bell and gravestone forces Rae to except that she died and Rae made this journey to this point herself.
Nani was a spiritual guide
The second possible theory suggests that Nani is a spirit guide, this one in comparison to the first theory seems more likely, even despite Rae’s sadness and the possibility of creating a fictional friend. This particular theory is a bit of stretch but I think it has power although you need to accept the afterlife as a possibility, for this theory we need to accept that Nani was Rae’s companion but it is not just before Rae sets off into the world that she died but rather before Rae was blinded.
While it is not fully possible to provide any evidence as to the nature of this ghost theory when put in line with the rest of the story it does still work. Nani showed up at a certain point in time after Rae was blinded, this was the point where Rae felt more alone than ever and needed someone to be there for her, and this is where Nani appeared for her. Rae gathered new peace and a new lease on life with her recurring friend’s visits, this slowly allowed her to gain courage and venture further then she thought possible slowly building up Rae for the journey that she had plotted.
As the game states throughout the seasons that pass since Rae’s accident Nani appears less and less, this was part of the ultimate plan to cause Rae to worry and to eventually after an extended period of time to venture forward to find her friend. The two signs Rae follows on her journey is the sound of the familiar cry as well as the bell that she had come to know, again I would suggest that each time she heard something familiar it was the spirit of Nani guiding her along to her final resting place.
However there is more to this including one point that tells us that Nani’s ultimate goal was to help Rae find a new friend and let her go. Around halfway through Rae’s journey we meet another young girl, I assume that this girl is at school given the area we pass through and many factors involving sound and that she loses a ball over a fence and can’t go and fetch it. Conveniently at this point Rae stumbles across the situation and is asked by the girl to fetch her ball, this proves quite challenging considering the slow and careful pace of Rae’s movements and that we can’t see but in eventually getting the ball the girl thanks us and we can move on.
I again like to consider this as part of Nani’s plan for Rae by putting her in direct contact with this girl as a future friend who will play with her. The whole factor with the ball can also be considered to be Nani’s doing that she used her spiritual capabilities to force the ball to wind a fair distance away just in time for Rae to stumble across the situation.
This evidence is further cemented by the games sad ending, when Rae finally learns that Nani is dead at the games conclusion she is left sad and grief-stricken by the situation. Her long and arduous journey had come to an end and she now knew that Nani was gone, it was Nani’s will that this happen, that Rae would stumble across the grave and be forced to let her go, but despite her sadness there was hope. One day Rae received a visitor, this visitor was the young girl we helped and she now became her friend and an escape for Rae’s isolation, Nani set everything up as Rae’s spiritual guide. She needed to help Rae escape her own inner darkness and face the world to spend months coming to terms with her life and accepting the situation. An animal acted as the perfect companion to assist with this recovery and helped her be ready to eventually re-join the world and find a friend who would understand and accept her weakness.
This later theory can obviously be a difficult one to swallow especially for those who don’t believe in what they can’t see such as ghostly apparitions but this does seem perfectly possible to me. Of course I am unable to provide any real evidence for either of my theories as each is circumstantial to the power of the mind and forces that we can’t see or control, but honestly both theories make Beyond Eyes seem like a much greater game that Rae was pushed in a convenient way to eventually set out and rejoin the world.